Pounds 114m student aid under attack

February 12, 1999

More than 90,000 college students will be worse off under the government's much-trumpeted Pounds 114 million student support package, according to the Association of Colleges.

The AoC is to express its dismay over the student support funding arrangements at an evidence session with the House of Commons select committee on education next week.

It will tell the committee, which is looking at access to education, that more than 90 per cent of 16 to 19-year-old students will be 30 per cent worse off for at least two years.

AoC policy director John Brennan, who was a member of the government student support advisory group, said that the government has "obscured what is going on" with last year's announcement of Pounds 114 million new money for student support in 2000-01.

The money will be split between schools and work-based trainees, said Dr Brennan. Money to pay for pilots of a new education maintenance allowance (EMA) to help a minority of students in the short term, will be taken from national access funds. This leaves little for other college students, Dr Brennan said.

Because the package involves the abolition of local authority discretionary awards for student support, adult and part-time students will suffer, said the AoC.

The result of the new package, said the AoC, "will be a considerable shift of resources away from the disadvantaged".

But a DFEE spokeswoman said: "The AoC is simply wrong." She said the deal makes Pounds 118 million available over the next two years, including Pounds 67 million of new money -the EMA would be paid for out of this.

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